Free WP Plugin Idea: Use Referrers Instead of Trackbacks
Blogs have a way of keeping track of who is linking to them using trackbacks or pingbacks. It’s a good idea in theory because it helps you follow the discussion as it spreads to new areas, but in practice it is mostly filled with spam because getting a well-placed trackback on a popular website can be a good source of traffic.
Trackbacks were designed without any kind of authentication mechanism whatsoever, not even the most trivial test that the person who is says they are linking to you really is linking to you. So screw spammy trackbacks. Screw them in their naughty place. Take them out of your blog themes and blog engines and let’s build something better.
Here’s the idea: instead of showing a list of trackbacks for spammers to abuse, show a list of referrers.
Now you have a plugin that collects data on non-spammy referrers, and THAT’S what you use instead of your trackback list. You order the referrers based on the amount of traffic they’ve sent you in a recent time period. You probably want to ignore search engines from the list. But you probably want to include social bookmarking sites.
This would destroy the “first post” trackback spam race because unlike trackbacks, no one is going to show up in the list unless they’re sending you traffic. It’ll also support sites that don’t bother with trackbacks (anything built after 2006) as long as they’re sending traffic.
As a blog visitor I’d love to come to a webpage and instead of seeing a useless trackback to some splog find that 1246 people have visited from StumbleUpon, 453 from Lifehacker, and 47 from the homepage of WordPress.com. It would tell me so much more about who finds this interesting, where to go to find more “off the blog” discussion, and other sites that have related content.
As a blog creator I’d love seeing that kind of per post referrer information captured somewhere.
This isn’t a revolutionary idea by any means, so I’m fully expecting the lazyweb to either correct me as to why this doesn’t work or point me in the direction of a plugin that already does this.